DETROIT — Kyle Quincey had a decision to make on July 1: Stay with the team that drafted him and where he has played 186 games of his career, or test the NHL free agency waters.
Comfortable with the group and the organization, Quincey remained a Red Wing, signing a two-year contract and has since been a key cog on a team one win away from advancing past the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“Obviously, you know the guys and know what goes on here,” Quincey said. “It’s a great organization and we have a chance to win. What more could you ask for?”
Quincey has appeared in 48 career postseason games, including 42 with the Wings, but has yet to record a playoff goal. However, he continues to log major minutes and has contributed three assists in five games of the first-round series against Tampa Bay. For a defenseman to get involved offensively, Quincey said requires a group effort from everyone on the ice.
“My job is to get the puck through and see what happens. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t,” he said. “It’s a lot of things that go into that. One is getting the puck to the point. One is getting to the net. We’ve been doing a pretty good job of doing that so I think we should keep doing that.”
While the shots haven’t been going in for Quincey, his contributions on the back end have been more about keeping others from scoring than scoring himself.
In his seventh season, Quincey provides a tremendous wealth of experience opposite his defensive partner, 25-year-old Danny DeKeyser. The two combine to provide a strong second-pair substitute in relief of the Swedish pair Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson.
“Well we have to match up being on the D-pair right now especially on the road when we don’t have the last change,” Ericsson said. “We can still have one of the pairs out there against the top lines so we’ll have a good matchup all the time. We really have the depth in that situation so that’s really good.”
Accepting a challenge to eliminate the opposition’s biggest offensive threats, Quincey takes great pride in squaring off against Lightning scorers like Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson.
“Right now is kind of my favorite time of year,” Quincey said. “The coach gives you a line to try and take care of and play hard against and try not to let them score. In my mind, if we do a good enough job and they don’t score we have a good chance to win with our power play. My role has changed over the years but penalty kill and being a shutdown defenseman is a great role to have and I’m relishing in it.”
An emphasis on defensive zone responsibilities and serious minutes on the penalty kill may limit Quincey’s opportunities in the offensive zone. His 42-game scoreless drought in the postseason with the Wings is closing in on a club record of 52 games without a goal set by Brett Lebda.
Not really known for his offensive prowess, Quincey has 26 goals in 448 career regular-season games, his last goal coming January 17 in a 5-2 win against the Nashville Predators.
However, his three points in the series with Tampa is already the most points Quincey has posted in a single postseason, let alone a single playoff series. Given the minutes he logs on a nightly basis and his importance in the lineup, Quincey could find himself scoring much sooner rather than later.
“It’s tough to say, who knows?” Ericsson said. “I think he’s been having a really good year, his best year so far that I’ve seen. He’s been really good for us, plays hard every night and that’s what we need. We don’t have the biggest team so we need someone who plays kinda big. He’s good defensively and also he can chip in some offensive plays as well.”